SP Gio Gonzalez made his comeback start against the Houston Astros on Wednesday night in DC. His presence rounds out a stellar starting rotation. Going into the game, the Washington Nationals had the second-lowest team ERA n the majors. Gonzalez being back means that there is no weak link in the starting rotation.
Both Jordan Zimmermann and Tanner Roark have ERAs under 3.00. Behind them is star pitcher Stephen Strasburg with a 3.06 ERA and Doug Fister tossing an impressive 3.08. Gonzalez entered Wednesday night with a 4.62 ERA. His season up until his mid-May shoulder injury was not reflective of the contribution he brings to the team. The 28-year-old pitcher is 73-52 for his career, having started at least 32 games in four of his first six seasons. In 2012, Gonzalez went 21-8 with a 2.89 ERA, earning him his second straight trip to the All-Star Game.
He plays a key role for the starting five. Not only does he give his fellow starters a break, but Gonzalez gives them a break with a chance to win. His comeback start against the Astros proved a bit rocky, but that was to be expected after nearly a month off. Gonzalez raised his season ERA to 4.85 Wednesday night with a line of 5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, and 6 SO.
It wasn’t the most impressive start, but he kept the Nationals in the game. They came back to win 6-5 after a fantastic bottom of the seventh. Gonzalez walked away with a no-decision, but the start showed promise for the remainder of the season. If the Nationals continue to hit and support their pitching, Gonzalez will comfortably slide into his role as a reliable ace.
Pitching tends to be a consistent aspect of the Nationals. They have given up the least number of total earned runs in the majors and sit at a close second to the Oakland Athletics in terms of ERA. With Gonzalez in the mix, the Nationals have one of the strongest rotations in all of baseball.